Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Iceland - Day 2

Lava fields... lupin fields... waterfalls... glaciers... black sand beaches... a hallucinating landscape with a distinct end of the world feeling...


The entrance to Raufarholshellir Noas lava tube... a mouth of the Earth... 


A wild lupin field, blue and fragrant, just below Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that stopped all air traffic to and from Europe a few years ago...


Skógafoss waterfall...


The sun at 11 pm... with Myrdalsjökull in the far background... the Katla volcano inside the glacier erupts on average every 40-60 years... last time in 1918...


Reynisfjara beach... black basaltic sand and the wild cold waves of the Atlantic...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Iceland - Day 1

There is something about Gullfoss waterfall that is fascinating and profoundly disturbing... more than height or volume of water...


...it's imagining in what depths it goes... and what it would be like to follow it there...



Sunday, June 26, 2016

Journey to the Centre of the Earth


Descend, bold traveller, into the crater of the jökull of Snæfell, which the shadow of Scartaris touches before the Kalends of July, and you will attain the centre of the Earth. I did it. Arne Saknussemm

You probably recognized this as the message found by Professor Lidenbrock and his nephew, Axel, in a runic manuscript of an Icelandic saga, which led them to their fantastical adventure to Iceland and beyond.



Well, doing just that has been one of my childhood’s daydreams. And I put a lot of work into it at the time; books of geology, speleology, paleontology, maps, detailed plans, supplies lists… Don’t laugh!

I can’t believe that on Monday night - tomorrow-  I’ll be flying to Reykjavik. Better late than never, right? Actually, what made the trip happen now is Icelandair putting up direct flights from Montreal to Reykjavik. So here I went again with maps, and books, and supplies like hiking boots, and waterproof jackets, and head lamps. We’ve rented a car and will be driving around the island. The car is a 4x4 so that we can also drive on the unpaved highland roads. Car insurance covers damage caused by volcanic ash…

Now, unfortunately, I’m pretty sure that I won’t be able to descend into the crater of Snæfellsjökull and, even if I could, I won’t find the famous entrance there… but I’ll certainly keep out an eye for others… And for elves…

Going to Iceland is pretty high, if not top, on my bucket list. I’m feeling kinda overwhelmed right now, even before getting there. I’ll see how the wi-fi situation is on the road and the extent of what I can do with my tablet, but I’ll try to post a picture here every day.

Bless bless!

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Map of the Way Forward

I’m writing a story —or shall I boldly call it a novel?— that’s been giving me a lot of trouble.

All the stuff I’ve written before has seemed to flow easily. Things made sense; POV, voice, choice of scenes, etc. all seemed to come to me (relatively) with no trouble. Mind you, except for the short stories, most of it is just lying around, not at the bottom of a drawer, but in a (forgotten) folder on my computer.

Well, this time, scenes came to me easily too, but that was about it. A lot of scenes. Actually, too many of them; too many things needed to happen at the same time, too many characters to introduce, 3rd person limited POV, 1st person POV, etc. I knew the story I wanted to tell, but I didn’t know how to tell it. I was not happy with it and I was beginning to panic.

I realized at that point, that I needed an outline. Yet, I simply cannot write an outline. If there’s an element of the story that I have to put on paper because I think I might not remember it, then it’s as good as lost. The story is all in my head. The ideas that I cannot cram in my head are as good as gone even if I record them in one way or another.

However, I did my homework diligently. I searched the web for good outlining methods, I even bought a book and followed its suggestions step by step. I'm sure it's a good book. It didn’t work.

Then, I fell upon this site: Write Like Rowling  and everything changed. Because this article, “Story Structure of Sorcerer’s Stone”, which by itself is quite interesting and very useful, led me to Larry Brooks’s Story Fix.

Chances are you’re already familiar with it, or at least heard of it. Larry Brooks has also written a book, "Story Engineering”, but the website gives detailed explanations and great examples, by deconstructing well-known and successful novels.

Story structure. The four parts: the Setup, the Response, the Attack, the Resolution. The first plot point, the midpoint, the second plot point, the pinch points, the hook… The exact place where each of them should be in your story. The meaning and the role of each part, how much and how little to give to the reader at each step. And so on. Very cool stuff that makes a lot of sense. Try it for yourself. Maybe you're already using it, knowingly or not.

So now I think I can say that I’m on track and that I have a very good map. There’s still plenty of freedom of exploring on the road, but the landmarks are there...

And Summer has begun today, which is a good thing...



Thursday, June 02, 2016

Ripe



inverted grapes
flirting with the sky
-already drunk
with the promise
of summer




Friday, May 13, 2016

Guest Post: Where is the Wonder? by Roland Yeomans

Roland Yeomans is here today to introduce his latest book, The Not-so-Innocents Abroad —about a steampunk honeymoon like no other…

I like the title. For me it holds the promise of some wicked humour on top of all the wonder and excitement I expect from a renewed encounter with Captain Samuel McCord.

I haven’t read it yet, but… steampunk? Vampires? An alien Empress among us? Seems more than cool.

Here’s Roland to tell you more about it:
-------------------------------------------------------------



WHERE IS THE WONDER? by Roland Yeomans

The wonder in the books we read seems to be lacking … at least it does to me.
Yes, it is Friday the 13th: the perfect time for another stop on my infamous “Don’t You Hate Book Tours?” Book Tour.




I believe the reason we hate book tours is the same reason we are underwhelmed by many books hawked in them:
SAME OLD, SAME OLD
Same interchangeable plots with the same interchangeable characters
Was WWI won by one person?  Was WWII?  No, those wars were won by countless sacrifices of thousands of common soldiers fighting the good fight.
Aren’t you tired of THE FATED HEROINE who is the sole lynch pin upon which victory depends?
The world just doesn’t work that way.
The best books and fiction draw from the way the world really works.

 (Image belongs to Marvel, of course)
Great movie with a well-crafted script.
And then, there is the dreaded Mary Sue craze currently sweeping the books and movies.
Take the latest STAR WARS movie: A FAMILIAR HOPE. 
It was bad enough all the plots points of  IV were plopped onto the script of the new movie.
They made Luke into a Mary Sue: Rey.  She could fix anything.  She could out-fly veteran fighter pilots.  She could use the Jedi Mind trick first time out.  She out-fought Darth Whiney Boy the first time she held a lightsaber.

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”  
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

The best fantasies are the ones that tell of the insignificant person trying her damnedest to survive in a surreal world that doesn’t much care if she lives or dies.
Take the contemporary, urban mythology of Neil Gaiman's American Gods, in which characters from ancient religions are hiding out in modern America. Or even the weird fever-dreams of China Miéville that combine bizarre creatures with Victorian technology.
In these modern times, where most of us sit at computers or face a bland commute, fantasy books offer a chance to break out of mundane moments.
Give your readers a prose window into a world of wonders, and you will succeed in selling your books.
Oh, wait!
I’m supposed to be selling MY  book just released in Kindle format!


I quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson because he appears in my book, detailing the honeymoon voyage of a cursed Texas Ranger newly wed to an Empress of an alien race.
The Xanadu, the world’s first Air-Steamship, is setting sail for a Steampunk adventure the likes of which you have never read:
It is 1867 in an America a layer of existence from this one.
General Sherman was denied his march through Georgia by forces beyond his ken. Abraham Lincoln was never assassinated though he wishes he had been killed instead of his beloved Mary.
The battered Indian tribes of America have a strange refuge courtesy of the cursed Texas Ranger, Captain Samuel McCord.
A global war of vampire kingdoms is going on beneath the noses of the living world — and it is interfering with the honeymoon of the alien empress, Meilori Shinseen.
She ruled the Aztecs when a political execution took place on Golgotha and channeled her frustration in repairing her starcraft by erecting the Sphinx. 
Joining the newlyweds are Mark Twain, 11 year old Nikola Tesla, his faithful black cat, Macak, Horace Greely, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ada Byron, daughter of Lord Byron, and the mysterious Greek physician, Lucanus.
Lurking in the shadows, hoping to kill them, is the insane Abraham Lincoln, the crippled General Sherman, the vampires, Abigail Adams and Benjamin Franklin, Empress Theodora, ruler of the Unholy Roman Empire, and the vengeful Captain Nemo, following in his Nautilus.
What are you waiting for?  Go to its Amazon page and try its LOOK INSIDE feature, and then buy it for your very own! 
Hey, what are you doing still looking at this page? 
  

-----------------------------------------------------

Well, if you're still looking at this page... Roland Yeomans has written 35 books. He lives in Louisiana and is a weaver of dreams. Visit him at his blog, Writing in the Crosshairs, or at his Amazon page. 


Saturday, May 07, 2016

Why Not


what a thorough disappointment
this absence of magic
this mundaneness

Even if they existed
the vampires, the angels
what makes you think
you’d be their darling
and not their victim?

even so... even so...

you know what I mean
I’m talking about real magic
not the stupefying wonder of a
hydromedusa
or the heartbreaking beauty
of Für Elise

how about some faeries, some werewolves
some wish-fulfilling genies
even the ones who trick you
if you’re no expert
at formulating wishes

why are we condemned to dullness
in this miraculous universe?

Isn’t the Universe magical enough for you?
Every single amoeba, every single star?

yes... yes... but...

if there exist such magical things
as cells splitting
into new cells
and helium burning up there
in the sky
why not also portals to other dimensions?
why not time travel?
yes, why not time travel?
why not...


Chick with a Quill turns 9 years old today...


Monday, February 08, 2016

Things

you see
there are these things that we see
or things that we think we see
things that we’ve been taught to see
every day things
every life things 
meant to be
mundane
comforting in their mundaneness
and then

there are the things that we don’t see
things that hide in the cracks
of this thing
that we call reality
the real things
harsh things
not meant to be reached
alien
crushing in their alienness
that only in dreams
perhaps
we can glimpse


 

Friday, January 01, 2016

Hello, 2016!

So, we stepped over that imaginary threshold between years...


Are we different? Certainly, one year older than on January 1st, 2015... Maybe, a little more hopeful for new beginnings... Energized, perhaps, ready for new projects or to renew projects (that is, if we're over that hangover...). I think I was writing once on this blog how each month feels different to me and January feels a bit scary... A door opening into a wide, open space where... well, who knows what awaits there... (something like in "At the Mountains of Madness"...)

Resolutions, anyone?

Mine are to:
  • laugh more
  • write more
  • exercise more
  • pay more attention
and
  • worry less 
  • procrastinate less
  • play Hay Day less (I don't know about that)
 To all those who read these words -and to every living being in this world- I wish you a very happy and healthy New Year! May you be blessed with love and bring love to the ones in your life. May you give kindness and receive kindness. Thank you for being here. Happy New Year!



Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye, 2015

It's hard for me to believe that 2015 is almost over. (It's hard to believe that we're already talking about 2015 when just the day before it was 2000...) A few more hours, a few drinks, and that's it...

When did it go away? Well, it had a whole year for that, but it feels like much less, much, much less...

How did it go away? In a blur, that's for sure... And what did I do? Well, I guess... outlined a little, wrote a little, read a little, lived a little (did a lot of farming on Hayday!)... 

All in all, it hasn't been a bad year for me. Not a spectacular year, but not a bad year either, and that's also important, isn't it?

Bye-bye, 2015!


Farewell at Night by Georges Barbier

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!



Merry Christmas, everyone! May it bring you gifts of love, good health, and joy. May there be only smiles in your eyes and in those of your loved ones. Merry Christmas!


Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Pardon of the Fogs in the Lovecraft eZine


 cover by Lee Copeland, www.leecopeland.com

Issue #36 of the Lovecraft eZine, the magazine featuring cosmic horror and the Cthulhu mythos, is now available on-line and I'm happy and proud that my story, The Pardon of the Fogs, is part of it.

Go read it on-line for free, if you'd like. Kindle and print edition will be available soon.

You gotta love that cover! And this is the wonderful and intriguing illustration for my story, by Giuseppe Balestra, dieGBdie.blogspot.com


Monday, November 30, 2015

The Night of Elisa by Isis Sousa


Isis Sousa Brazilian-born artist living in Norway keeps saying that she’s not a writer and that “writing sucks.” Maybe. Maybe not. One thing I find certain —whether she uses words or images, she is a great storyteller. And in “The Night of Elisa” she tells a unique, absorbing story.

From the magnificent cover through the pencil sketches in the book to the beautiful flourishes on each page, Ms. Sousa’s ability to bring her characters to “life” in drawings as well as in words enhances the experience and fully draws the reader into the rich world of her story.



“The silence of the night was broken by a beautiful female voice singing a lullaby. It came from a distance and approached Leonhard slowly, surrounding him. He listened to the melody’s phantasmagoric cadence and the sounds penetrated his skin, his bones, until he could feel the music within him. He opened his eyes abruptly as he felt a heat spreading inside him; it was as though he had been covered by the most splendid earthly sunlight.”

So many of the elements of the Gothic novel are present here: Leonhard
the fallen hero, Elisa the woman in distress, threatened by and fleeing from the evil Quentin, the general sense of unease and foreboding, the powerful love...

The writing has a hypnotic, dreamlike quality, achieved largely —I would say— by the use of the third person omniscient point of view, by the limited use of contractions, and by the almost screenplay feel of many of its paragraphs. The tone and the rhythm are perfect for this strange world where the dead and the living seem to coexist and to interact. And, Duskland, with its permanent gloom, is more than fascinating… Once having had a taste of it, I wonder, will one be able to stay away?...

“They want us to open a door but it takes a blood ritual to do such a thing, Elisa. Would you dare to try it?”

Dark, beautiful, haunting, “The Night of Elisa” is still with me days after reading the last page and will be for a long time…


Visit Isis Sousa's self-publishing website, Tragic Books, see her portfolio at Helheimen Design, visit her blog, Darkest Soirée and her Print Shop.
And find her on Goodreads too, where there's a giveaway happening right now for The Night of Elisa.

 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

illustration from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg


 The Bump under the Rug

“Ah! It’s a rat!” cried Mrs. Harris, my dear every Thursday bridge partner. “I’m not going in there anymore!”

“I’m telling you, it’s the fairies!” said tiny Mr. Field, with his tiny voice, trying to see something from behind Mrs. Harris who wouldn’t budge from the door despite her fear of rats. "They come every night!"

“Where’s your cat, Mr. James?” asked Barry, the delivery boy, in his usual cheeky tone.

“Right there,” I replied annoyed. Kitty was standing at the edge of the rug, too scared to attack, watching warily the big bump under the rug. The bump began moving again, even faster than before, toward that corner where the rug reached right underneath the big, old chest of drawers.

Under our four pairs of unbelieving eyes, the bump vanished. Kitty darted towards it, but it was too late.
Just like one week before. And one week before that, when it had first happened. Barry had been there too, and Mrs. Harris, and Mr. Field.

I said "good bye" to my neighbours, tipped Barry for delivering my bag of groceries from his uncle's store, and returned to my apartment.

I knew there was nothing behind the chest, because I had checked last time, but just to be sure, I checked again. Nothing. At least my neighbours had seen it too so I wasn't imagining things.

That night I didn't go to bed. I sat on the armchair, with a baseball bat in my right hand and a plastic bowl in the other, and waited. I was determined not to fall asleep this time so I didn't eat anything, not even the almond cake. Barry's uncle made a terrific cake.

Soon after midnight, I heard a scraping sound. I kept still, pretending to be asleep, but I was watching carefully. Soon enough, a bump began moving under the rug, from the corner underneath the chest. When it reached the center of the room, I jumped and threw the bowl over it.

Whatever it was, I had caught it.

"Let me go!" said a tinny voice.

I fell on my back.

The bump wasn't moving anymore, but it looked like it was shaking. Kitty was hissing loudly and wagging his tail.

"Who's talking?" I managed to say. "Who are you?"

"Let me go and I'll tell you."

"Talk, or I won't let you go. Who are you?"

"I'm the previous owner of the apartment above yours..."

Mr. Allen? How could that be? I knew him well. We'd been neighbours for twenty years. He'd recently sold his apartment and had moved to Florida. The apartment was rented now by a young woman, Miss Jones. How could that be?

"Do you like almond cake?" the tinny voice continued. "So did I... so much that I ate some every night. Barry's still delivering it, I see. All full of Uncle Gary's black magic. Until one night, it will be Uncle Gary delivering the cake. His spell will turn you into a doll too. A little, animated, docile doll...And then you too you'll have to obey him. Go through the apartments, steal things, scare people into selling them dirt-cheap to... guess who? Uncle Gary..."

Poor doll guy Mr. Allen. I felt sorry for him. I let him go after he promised not to bother me anymore. In fact, he was quite scared of Kitty so he was somehow glad that I found him so he couldn't come to my apartment anymore.
  
As for me, that was the last time I was going to eat almond cake, or any cake for that matter.

 Happy, Spooky Halloween!

And these are my carved pumpkins for this year...





 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Supermoon Eclipse in my Garden

Can't believe I haven't posted here since early May... There was a fantastic show tonight and I'm happy I was able to witness it from my back yard. Perfect sky up until the eclipse was full and then clouds rushed in. Doesn't matter, I've seen all of it.











Hope to do this again in 2033!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

A Duck Story

A girl-duck and a boy-duck are swimming leisurely on my pool, which is yet to be prepared for summer...


This way... That way...


...beauty in the mirror of the dark water...


Suddenly, a rival arrives...


The girl-duck promptly retreats to the safety of the lily of the valley yet to bloom... She waits... Do I detect a mischievous sparkle in her eye?


The boys have a game of war to play... Notice how the water around them tells their tale...


They both fly away. Then, after a while, one comes back. Peace has returned at last... Which one is he? I think it's the rival who's gone...


So beautiful, regardless...


By the way, Chick with a Quill turns eight today... :-)

Monday, April 27, 2015

One Day


image by pierrepaul43 on flickr


one day
the masks simply won’t
hold together anymore
the mask of happiness
the mask of enthusiasm
the mask of goodness
eroded
by tears
by sweat
by the uncontrollable
laughter
the mask of indifference
the mask of compassion
the mask of sadness
will peel off
like old paint

one day
it will be just my
unrecognizable 
face

Friday, April 17, 2015

Wanderings on Kindle


After five months of paperback-only life, “Wanderings on Darker Shores – a collection of strange tales and poems” is now also available as a Kindle ebook.

Strange how this feels bittersweet…

Setting up the paperback has been such an intense and satisfying job! I’ve found a lot of good advice on the Internet and I will probably share it here in a nutshell in a future post. From working on the cover with talented artist Steve Santiago and trying to follow editor Mark Durfee’s wonderful advice, to choosing fonts, and flourishes, and page set-up, and struggling with my own perfectionism, this has been an amazing journey.

Compared to it, setting the book up for Kindle —although still involving a bit of research— has proven almost anticlimactic, if I may say so.

The “real” book —and yes, I know I’m blowing my own horn— is so nice to hold in your hands that it’s certainly a pity that all of that is lost on Kindle. But that’s the way of the world now and we have to go with it…

So here they are, both of them, under the same cover…


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Not Lost - and a Bit of News

No, I did not get lost in Manhattan... though sometimes I wish I did... :-)

Thanks, everybody, for your comments and good wishes on my previous post. It's kind of late to answer them individually, but please know that I appreciate them and I am very grateful for all of them.

Since I returned home, I've been very busy writing a story at the request of Mike Davis, the editor and publisher of the Lovecraft eZine, who has published one of my stories before. That's done now and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he'll like it. :-)







Check out the very nice 5* review that "Wanderings on Darker Shores" got at  Pure Jonel ~ Confessions of a Bibliophile. There's also a giveaway for three paperbacks and five pdf copies that ends on April 17th.


And last, but not least, "Airships & Automatons", the steampunk anthology from White Cat Publications -with my story "The Thing with Feathers" in it-  is now available both as a Kindle ebook and as a paperback. Why not give it a try?


Sunday, March 01, 2015

Off to New York

So I'll be away for a week, going on my annual pilgrimage to New York City... I'm sorry that I haven't been able to visit all your blogs much lately, but I'll do my best to catch up when I return. :-)

I leave you with this hope for spring...



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Our Life


photo from www.lamag.com

stand to attention
life is passing by
in a huge float
a floral parade
your life her life my life
look how beautiful it is
look at all those dreams
like helium balloons
clap laugh cry clap
now it disappears around the corner
now it’s gone